Venture Capital: Thai Bank To Invest Up To $100M In Tech-Focused VC Arm
The bank wants to take advantage of the “decently priced” environment prevailing currently.
According to Thanapong Na Ranong, Managing Director of Thailand’s Kasikornbank (KBank), the company’s corporate venture capital arm, Beacon VC, is planning to raise $50 million to $100 million from its parent for tech investments this year. (Nikkei Asia)
The Kbank corporate venture capital fund was created in 2017 with an initial corpus of $30 million, and as of 2021, the size of the fund had grown to $185 million. Beacon is focused on strategic investments in early to growth-stage companies in financial technology, the consumer internet, and enterprise technology.
Portfolio investments include regional unicorns such as Grab, Nium, and Carro as well as Thai companies including Builk, which provides cloud-based software for the construction industry , and FoodStory – a point of sale and restaurant management system startup.
Strategically, Beacon also invests in other VC firms to broaden its investment base by piggybacking on their networks.
According to Ranong, conditions in the banking industry are tough because of competition. However, technology could boost Kbank’s profitability, particularly if accompanied by insight into users’ needs.
For example, a VC investment in Grab allowed Kbank to customize products for taxi drivers; again, a tie-up with messaging app Line allowed Kbank access to its millions of users.
“We have to look for new segments,” Ranong says. “In the past, we could not provide financial services to certain segments because we didn’t have the data for them.”
Also alluring is the current condition in the financial markets where assets are off their multi-year highs.
“Corporate VCs invest for the synergy, so they will still invest even in downturns,” Ranong said. “But they will also invest more carefully, and not give high valuations as in the past.”
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